If the rumor mill is right and Days of our Lives is on the verge of cancellation, then the show is definitely going to go out swinging. The NBC soap has made a major change to its creative team: Emmy-winning veteran soap writer Ron Carlivati has been named the show's head writer effective immediately. Carlivati will replace Dena Higley, who will no longer be part of the show's writing team.
Carlivati took to Twitter to express how grateful and honored he is to be joining the NBC soap.
In other changes, Ryan Quan, who had been serving as co-head writer with Higley, will remain with DAYS in the role of creative consultant. Sheri Anderson Thomas, who has been a part of DAYS' writing team in various capacities including head writer and co-head writer, has also been named a creative consultant.
Anderson also took to Twitter, saying that it was "great to be coming home."
It's great to be coming 'home'! Looking to a bright future!— Sheri Anderson (@sheriawriter) January 24, 2017
For its part, the NBC soap released a short statement: “We look forward to the fresh and compelling stories these changes will bring to Salem."
This is not the first time that Carlivati has supplanted Higley at the top of a writing team. In February 2007, Carlivati was promoted to co-head writer with Higley at One Life to Live -- four months later, Higley was let go and Carlivati became the show's sole head writer.
During Carlivati's tenure as head writer for One Life to Live, the show won the 2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing Team. Upon ABC's decision to cancel One Life to Live and All My Children in 2011, Carlivati was given the opportunity to serve as head writer for General Hospital.
For those who might be critical of DAYS hiring someone who served as head writer of a show that was canceled, One Life to Live led the pack in several of the key female demographics during its final year on ABC -- and the show was, at time, ABC's highest-rated soap.
It was widely assumed that ABC would also scrap GH, but the show enjoyed a boost that saw its ratings soar to eight-year highs under Carlivati and executive producer Frank Valentini. GH remains on the air as ABC's only surviving soap. Carlivati was let go from General Hospital in 2015 amid changes at the network level.
Dena Higley, meanwhile, has served off and on as head writer since March 2003. Her most recent stint atop the DAYS writing team began in August 2015. While DAYS' viewership soared in its 50th season in 2015, the show's ratings have tumbled steadily since. For the week of January 9, 2017, DAYS notched just 2,351,000 viewers -- down a whopping 440,000 from the year before.
When asked by a fan on Twitter why she continually goes back to Days of our Lives only to be fired, Higley replied, "Well I don't hold the record but it's a valid question. Don't worry. I won't be back. Ever."
@TweetsByBranden Well I don't hold the record but it's a valid question. Don't worry. I won't be back. Ever.— Dena Higley (@DenaHigley) January 24, 2017
Earlier this month, rumors circulated that NBC was considering pulling the plug on DAYS. Some reports attributed the cancellation talk to the network's megadeal with former FOX News personality Megyn Kelly. Others, however, insisted that Kelly had little do with it, and DAYS' low ratings were what put the show on the proverbial bubble. At the recent Television Critics Association winter press tour, however, NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt sung a slightly different tune. "I don't think it's over yet," he said when asked if DAYS was set to end.
Laurisa, one of our two Two Scoops commentary columnists, compared her feelings on Carlivati's hiring to being back in school. "You remember that feeling as a kid when you found out that you got the teacher you wanted? Same thing here," she shared, adding that she has "high hopes" for DAYS. She and Tony will have more thoughts on the changes in their next columns.
Daytime Confidential's Jamey Giddens quickly praised the writing change. "[Carlivati's] patented brand of larger-than-life umbrella stories, coupled with Anderson Thomas's penchant for sweeping romance and Quan's knowledge of show history should create quite the team."
For fans equally excited about the writing team shakeup, there is something to temper that enthusiasm. Due to DAYS' frenetic production schedule, Carlivati's material might not air until fall.
Soap Opera Digest first reported Carlivati's hiring.
UPDATE: On February 5, Carlivati shared a photo of the Days of our Live studio with the caption, "Where the magic happens."
What do you think of Days of our Lives' decision to make changes to its writing team? What would be your suggestions to or requests for Ron Carlivati? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.